Researchers at the National Institute of Technology (IPN), Mexico's most important centre for advanced public technology education, are currently developing synthetic materials from rubber that can be used to produce "smart" clothing. Adrian Fuentes, head of research at the IPN Institute of Textile Engineering, said synthetic materials would be stronger, lighter, more durable and resilient. At present, the research is in the first stage of the "smart" design project, focusing on synthesis, chemical modification and polymer properties, using latex to produce waterproof cotton fabric. After the new technology is applied to natural fibers, fabrics that can be used in many industries will be produced, which is very useful for the second stage of production of "smart" clothing. Experts say Mexico has great potential to produce new materials on a large scale because of its abundant natural rubber production. Mr Adrian explained that rubber exists as a polymer and can be molded into any form, from amorphous (soft) to crystalline (hard). In addition to elasticity, natural rubber can also be waterproof when vulcanized and resistant to acid and alkali, and insulate temperature and electricity. All these characteristics add together, so that rubber can be widely used in clothing development. Experts suggest that Mexico should take advantage of its natural rubber production advantages, increase the use of new materials, and become a leader in high value-added products. The researchers also said that nylon 6 could be combined with a variety of chemical processes to develop a fire-resistant wire that could be used to produce clothing for firefighters and other products.
Scientists in Mexico are studying the production of garments with latex.